Highland Park - Noting that a world-class transit system is vital to compete in a global economy, State Senate Candidate Dr. Arie Friedman proposed new reforms to help protect suburban commuter rail system Metra from more political manipulation and a potential raid on its scarce resources.
“When it comes to transit policy, no political party has a monopoly on good ideas,” said Friedman. “I want to carry on the work of my predecessor, Sen. Susan Garrett, as an advocate for reform and greater efficiency at our transit agencies, particularly Metra, which serves tens of thousands of north suburban residents every day.”
The vast majority of Metra's riders are suburban residents. Most of the system's track miles and stations are in the suburbs, almost all the region’s growth is in the suburbs, and in 2011 95% of Metra’s tax revenue came from the suburbs.* “I want to make sure Metra maintains a suburban focus,” said Friedman. “We can do this by ensuring that machine politics don't wrest control over Metra's budget and planning away from suburban residents.”
The mayor of Chicago is seeking to install one of his lieutenants in charge of the transit system that serves primarily suburban riders. Since its inception in three decades ago, Metra has been chaired by suburban board members.
“I am calling on suburban members of the legislature, the other chairs of the collar county boards and other local officials to urge their Metra board members to select a suburban representative, rather than the Chicago mayor's hand-picked candidate to lead the suburban transit agency,” Freidman said. “Additionally, I will introduce legislation in the Senate to amend the RTA act to require that Metra's governing board be led by a suburban representative.”
The proposed legislation will amend 70 ILCS 3615/3B.02 to state that the chairman of Metra must be one of the suburban members of the agency’s governing board.
Friedman was joined in his call for reform by fellow Senate candidate and current Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay. “I’ve been deeply involved in regional transit issues and Arie’s legislation will be an important step in maintaining the proper balance in transportation planning and I will work with him in Springfield to see it passed,” McConnaughay said.
Population growth and changes in commuting patterns and the location of many more jobs outside the city have greatly increased the need to invest transit resources on getting suburban residents to their jobs both in and outside the city. “Suburban job growth is dependent on a reliable and responsive transit system now and in the future,” said Friedman. “Metra will not be able to meet these needs if it is just used to prop up the CTA.”